n The prime ministers of Denmark, Finland, Sweden, Germany and the Land of Schleswig-Holstein have pledged their support for the construction of a fixed link across the Fehmarn Belt within 10 years, replacing the present Rødby - Puttgarden ferry.

n Railion confirmed on February 15 that ’discussions’ are taking place with Danish State Railways over the partial or total acquisition of freight arm DSB Gods, but no decisions have been taken.

n Gibb Africa has been retained by South African Rail Commuter Corp to structure concessions that will be offered to the private sector, with PricewaterhouseCoopers implementing the transfer of Metrorail operations from national to provincial government within four years. Spoornet’s luxury Blue Train operation may also be a candidate for privatisation.

n Renfe has postponed until the end of March the publication of its bidding conditions for the supply of between 30 and 40 high speed trainsets for the Madrid - Barcelona high speed line. With a budget of Pts111bn, the national operator will give preference to bids undertaking to produce the trains wholly within Spain, with provision for some work to be undertaken by Renfe workshops.

n Look for preliminary work on metro Line 3 to start in Beijing, with the city government calling tenders for construction of the 15 km tunnel section of the 28 km route, expected for completion in 2005 at a cost of 11·9bn yuan including some private finance. Work on Nankin’s first 17 km line costing 6·46bn yuan is also due to start this year; commuter, metro and light rail routes are also planned for Shanghai, Chongqing, Wuhan and Changchun.

n Netherlands Railways is considering the installation of barrier gates at stations in an attempt to curb assaults on staff, a large proportion of which are perpetrated by passengers travelling without tickets. Gates could first be installed at Amsterdam, Rotterdam and Utrecht CS under refurbishment schemes, with activation by the national smart card (p170).

n The government of Estonia intends to sell this year by international tender between 51 and 66% of freight operator and infrastructure owner AS Eesti Raudtee. The purchaser would assume responsibility for future investment in the national rail network.

n Speaking in Warszawa on January 28, SNCF President Louis Gallois indicated his company’s interest in purchasing PKP’s freight operations, suggesting collaboration in this venture with DB, FS or Wisconsin Central of the USA. Fret SNCF’s third office outside France, SNCF Fret Deutschland GmbH, was officially opened in Frankfurt am Main on January 20.

n On February 15 Argentina’s Minister for Infrastructure & Housing Nicol